Whether hepatitis resolves depends on the type and whether a person receives treatment. Hepatitis A usually resolves without medications, and while sometimes hepatitis B and C may last only a few weeks, other times, they become serious lifelong infections.

There is no cure for hepatitis B, but treatment can help reduce the risk of liver damage and cancer. However, hepatitis C has a high cure rate with treatment.

Sometimes, when a person has hepatitis C, the body can spontaneously clear the virus.

Some prevention methods involve getting the vaccine for hepatitis A and B and avoiding behaviors that increase the risk of contracting the infections.

Rarely, someone may have other types of hepatitis, such as hepatitis D, E, and G. These types tend to be more prevalent in other parts of the world than in the United States.

This article discusses more common types of hepatitis, including whether it goes away, treatment, and prevention. It also answers questions that people commonly ask.

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Hepatitis refers to liver inflammation. The liver is an important organ that filters blood, processes nutrients, and fights infections. If the liver has inflammation or damage, it can affect its function.

Viruses frequently cause hepatitis. The most common types of viral hepatitis in the United States are hepatitis A, B, and C, which the hepatitis A, B, and C viruses cause, respectively.

Infections with hepatitis can be acute, meaning short term, or chronic, meaning long term.

Some cases go away on their own, while others require treatment for the viral infection to resolve. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that around 30% of people with acute hepatitis C spontaneously clear the virus without treatment.

However, other cases do not go away, even with treatment.

Learn more about viral hepatitis.

Treatment depends on the type of hepatitis.

Hepatitis A

Treatment for hepatitis A does not involve medications. Instead, it consists of supportive measures to reduce symptoms, such as:

  • rest
  • fluids
  • nutrition

Most people recover without experiencing permanent liver damage. That said, in rare cases, death may occur.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B may be acute or chronic. The treatment for acute infection involves supportive measures rather than medications.

In contrast, antiviral drugs are available to treat chronic hepatitis B, but all people with the condition may not need treatment.

Doctors prescribe treatment if a person has detectable levels of the hepatitis B virus in the blood and evidence of liver damage. It is important to note that treatment does not cure the infection but may stop the virus from multiplying and causing liver damage or cancer.

Treatment involves oral antiviral medications, such as tenofovir (Viread) or entecavir (Baraclude), which help kill the virus. In rare cases, treatment may include injecting an interferon-type drug, which boosts the immune system and helps the body fight infection.

Sudden and severe liver failure occurs in 0.5% to 1% of individuals with hepatitis B. The death rate in these cases is about 80%.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C can also be acute or chronic, but 75–85% of people who contract the acute infection develop chronic hepatitis. Treatment is available, which can cure more than 95% of those with the condition.

Treatment entails one or more newer direct-acting antiviral medications, such as sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) or grazoprevir (Zepatier).

Doctors sometimes prescribe older hepatitis C medications as well. An example is ribavirin (Copegus, Rebetol, Ribasphere).

Prevention varies according to the type of hepatitis.

Hepatitis A

Vaccination offers the best means of preventing hepatitis A. It also helps to wash hands with soap and water after using the restroom and before eating or cooking.

Learn more about the hepatitis A vaccine.

Hepatitis B

As with hepatitis A, vaccination is effective in preventing hepatitis B.

Other prevention measures include:

  • using suitable barrier methods when having sex
  • avoiding direct contact with blood or body fluids
  • refraining from the use of recreational drugs
  • ensuring that needles for ear piercing or acupuncture are sterile
  • avoiding sharing personal items, such as toothbrushes and razors

Learn more about the hepatitis B vaccine.

Hepatitis C

No vaccine is available for hepatitis C.

The best means of prevention involve refraining from behaviors that spread the infection, particularly injecting recreational drugs. This is because most people contract the hepatitis C virus when they share needles and other equipment involved in preparing and injecting drugs.

Learn more about how hepatitis C spreads.

Below are answers to common questions regarding hepatitis.

How long does hepatitis last without treatment?

Hepatitis A can last from a few weeks to a few months.

Acute hepatitis B may be short term, lasting a few weeks, but chronic hepatitis is a long-term condition that can lead to death.

Without treatment, hepatitis C can be long term and cause chronic liver disease, liver failure, or liver cancer.

Are all hepatitis types permanent?

Hepatitis A is not permanent, but in some cases, hepatitis B is permanent.

With early treatment, hepatitis C is not permanent, but without treatment, it can be.

Can you completely get rid of hepatitis?

Usually, hepatitis A goes away completely.

Some cases of acute hepatitis B and hepatitis C go away after a few weeks, but others remain chronic.

Hepatitis A usually resolves without medications, and 95% of hepatitis C cases disappear with treatment. Hepatitis B has no cure, but medications can help prevent serious complications.

Treatment for hepatitis A and acute hepatitis B tends to involve only supportive measures, such as rest. Antiviral treatment is available for chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Vaccination prevents hepatitis A and B, but no vaccine is available for hepatitis C. Other means of prevention involve avoiding behaviors that increase the risk of contracting the virus. These behaviors include having sex without using a barrier method and using recreational drugs.